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Date : May 16, 2019


A family of seven North Koreans detained in China faces grave danger of torture and other mistreatment if forcibly repatriated to North Korea, the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) said today.

The seven North Koreans, including a nine year-old girl, are currently detained in Liaoning province, China after being arrested on 28 April 2019. Some escaped from North Korea in recent weeks, while other relatives have been living in northern China for several years.

“If this family is sent back to North Korea, they would face almost certain torture, sexual violence, forced labour and other grave abuses,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is vital that they are instead given safe passage to a third country.”

Under North Korean laws, departing the country without permission is a criminal offence. North Koreans who have previously been forcibly repatriated have faced imprisonment in political prison camps or other detention facilities, or in some cases execution.

“Forcibly repatriating this family to North Korea would be to send them to a dire fate, with almost certain torture and imprisonment and possibly execution,” said Benedict Rogers, a co- founder of ICNK and East Asia Team Leader of international human rights organization CSW. “Furthermore, it would be a breach of China’s obligations under international law and a violation of the international principle of non-refoulement.”

“Given the UN’s own assessment that crimes against humanity are perpetrated by the regime in North Korea, no North Korean should be forcibly sent back to the country against their will,” said Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary-General of ICNK. “The world must act to stop China sending people back to face further grave abuses.”

The ICNK, a coalition of over 40 Non-Governmental Organisations around the world, advocated for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry, which was set up in 2013 and concluded in 2014 that North Korea is perpetrating crimes against humanity.

For more information:

In Bangkok, Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, tel: +66-85-060-8406, email: RobertP@hrw.org, follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In London, Ben Rogers, East Asia Team Leader, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, tel: +44-7823-329664, email: ben@csw.org.uk
In Seoul, Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary-General, ICNK, tel: +82-10-4508-8815, email: kekyoung@gmail.com

Members and supporters of the Coalition include:

Advocates International Global Council
Asia Justice and Rights
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
Burma Partnership (Thailand)
Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea) (Japan)
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
Conectas (Brazil)
Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and author of Hidden Gulag
Free North Korea Radio (ROK) Freedom House (USA)
Han Voice (Canada)
HH Katacombs (ROK)
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea Jubilee Campaign (USA)

Justice for North Korea (ROK)
Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
Kontras (Indonesia)
Liberty in North Korea - LiNK (USA)
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
NK Watch (ROK)
No Fence (Japan)
North Korea Freedom Coalition
Odhikar (Bangladesh)
Open North Korea (ROK)
People In Need (Czech Republic)
PSALT NK (Prayer Service Action Love Truth for North Korea)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (USA)
SARAM - Für Menschen in Nordkorea (Germany)
Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)
Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defence Forum Foundation (USA)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)
The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)
Tomoharu Ebihara
Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders
World Without Genocide (USA)
Young Defectors' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK) Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)

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